De Blasio Outlines Reforms After Probe into Myls Dobson's Death

By Colby Hamilton on January 17, 2014 6:12pm 

 Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the initial results of an investigation into city agencies on Jan. 17, 2014, after the death of 4-year-old Myls Dobson.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the initial results of an investigation into city agencies on Jan. 17, 2014, after the death of 4-year-old Myls Dobson.
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DNAinfo/Colby Hamilton

CIVIC CENTER — Mayor Bill de Blasio released the results of what he referred to as a preliminary investigation into the death of Myls Dobson on Friday, finding numerous instances where the Administration of Children’s Services missed potential opportunities to save the 4-year-old's life.

The initial findings were accompanied by steps de Blasio said would immediately be taken to improve child welfare services in the city.

“The agencies’ duties, and our duties, are to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” de Blasio said.

According to the report, ACS acknowledged it was unaware that Myls’ father, Okee Wade, was incarcerated from September 2012 to February 2013, as was first reported by DNAinfo Friday morning.

ACS visited the home nine times while Wade was in jail, but that nothing during the visits were of enough concern for case workers to take action.

“Every time we went to that home to visit, that child was with a caregiver, with a babysitter, and was well cared for. There were no questions,” ACS chief Gladys Carrión said. “Every time we went to visit…we were told the father was working, and was working very long hours, 16 hours a day, and that’s why he wasn’t available.

“Should we have done something differently? Yes, we should have.”

The report also found that Wade’s parole officer was not contacted by child protective services after September 2012, which was in violation of court directives.

Additionally, the report lamented more was not done to encourage Wade to take advantage of city services.

“What we have found so far certainly shows us areas of improvement,” de Blasio said, stressing that the full report was not finished.

However, the mayor said he was already directing city agencies to make specific improvements based on the report.

For example, the city would require mandatory court appearances after court-ordered ACS supervision was finished, so a full exploration of the child’s well-being could be assessed and approved by a Family Court judge.

De Blasio also said the ACS would conduct a review of all its current court-ordered cases to ensure the orders are being followed and children remain safe.

Additionally, prisoner-intake procedures will change to have correction officers ask inmates who are primary caregivers what arrangements were made for their children.

He also said he would seek legislation to give ACS greater access to court databases on arrests, as well as greater authority to supervise parents who may not be the subject of a child welfare investigation, but who have children under ACS supervision.

“We want ACS to be able to supervise non-respondent areas because in several of these cases, obviously, that’s another area of real concern,” de Blasio said.

De Blasio also announced the formation of an interagency Children’s Cabinet to create better collaboration across city agencies including ACS, the Department of Health, Health and Hospitals Corporation, Department of Education and the NYPD.

“The issue here is how do we improve our practices, how do we improve our laws, how do we improve the coordination between agencies?” de Blasio said. “We know there’s a lot more we can do.”

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